“We do a lot of lip service to supporting agriculture in the county, and if we could work with our representatives to get this sort of legislation in Virginia I think it would help [boost] sales of local products.”
So observed Piedmont District Supervisor Christine Smith, drawing the Rappahannock board’s attention this week to the once popular “COOL” law requiring country-of-origin labels (COOL) for beef and pork.
However, bowing to pressure from the World Trade Organization, the U.S. Congress in 2015 repealed the two-year-old law, just as it was empowering Americans to “buy local” — in other words supporting U.S. ranchers instead of unknowingly consuming beef products from 20 foreign countries.
“It’s a matter of not ‘Where’s the Beef?’ but ‘Where’s the Beef From?’” mused Supervisor Chris Parrish, a cattle farmer from Stonewall-Hawthorne, playing off the popular 1984 slogan for the fast-food chain Wendy’s.
Smith explained that she was perusing the county’s Comprehensive Plan, currently being updated for 2019, and in particular its focus on supporting Rappahannock agriculture, including cattle farming.
Familiar with the now-defunct COOL law, and the nationwide push underway to have it reinstated during the Trump climate of “Buy American,” Smith proposed a letter of support from the BOS be forwarded to Rappahannock’s state representatives, namely Sen. Mark Obenshain and Del. Michael Webert, the latter the owner of a cattle marketing business.
“It would be a useful thing to bring forward,” Smith said, in time for the next session of the Virginia General Assembly. She pointed out that the movement to reinstate COOL is gaining ground in other cattle producing states, including Colorado and Montana.
The supervisors agreed, and tasked county Administrator Garrey Curry to draft a letter on their behalf to state lawmakers in support of COOL and Rappahannock farming alike.
In other action this week, the BOS proposed or agreed to:
— Transfer, as earlier allowed, available budget funding sourced from the general fund reserve for one time uses.
— Schedule a public hearing surrounding the adoption of a Rappahannock County Government “Code of Ethics and Conduct,” stating in part: “The professional and personal conduct of members and appointees must be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Members and appointees shall refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of others.”
— Replace “low-band” emergency pagers, currently carried by 162 Rappahannock County first responders, with superior performing “high-band” pagers.
— Consider scheduling “quarterly” public forums of the BOS, as previously held under former Rappahannock Administrator Debbie Keyser, in various public venues throughout the county.
— Add a “desired end” to the county’s Broadband Communication Plan, stating: “To achieve 95 percent affordable digital subscriber line (DSL), fiber optic (fiber) or equivalent broadband transmission service of 2019 Federal Communications Commission minimum standards of no less than 25 Mbps consistent download speed and 3 Mbps consistent upload speed, with low latency, for Rappahannock County residents, businesses, schools, government, and volunteer organizations.
“The strategies will incorporate system architecture adequate to expand broadband delivery service to 100 Mbps download speed by year 2030 to ensure future growth needs for business development, education, tele-working, healthcare, public safety, and home entertainment, personal data and voice communication.”